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Darwin Deez - Darwin Deez

Darwin Deez, Darwin Deez

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

A SELF-confessed offbeat pop star, Darwin Deez releases his eponymous debut album and duly impresses.

Incorporating elements of The Shins, Eels and Weezer with quirky lyricism and trippy melodies, his songs are nevertheless hugely engaging and make for addictive listening.

As befitting someone with such an unusual background (born in North Carolina to Meher Baba disciples, before going to Wesleyan in Connecticut, hating it and falling in with the anti-folk Sidewalk Cafe crowd in NYC), Darwin mines a musical vein that’s entirely his own.

His songs are mostly stripped down and kept simple and unadorned – the result of having recorded the album in his own apartment using only a PC and a mike).

But you’d never realise (surely the mark of any really good DIY artist), as his songs are brimming with energy and witty observations.

They’re mildly provocative too… such as the willfully obscure The Bomb Song, which begins using an addictive guitar riff and the line: “The sky is green [hopeful], it’s been that way since they dropped the bomb [getting darker], the clouds are brown [darker still], the city’s a ghost town [again]”.

In spite of the darkness inherent in the lyrics and the imagery they convey, however, Deez somehow manages to make it sound charming in a bittersweet kind of way. It’s a measure of the addictive nature of his songwriting that the chiming chorus is somehow empowering, as he begs: “Say you love me now.” Safe to say, we do!

Prior to that, Constellations gets things off in upbeat, bouncy fashion with a clever play on the “twinkle twinkle little star” rhyme, which begins as per normal, and then trickles into “wrinkle wrinkle little scar, count the freckles on my arm”. It’s backed by a snappy beat, some echoed backing vocals a la Shins and a lively central guitar riff.

More pensive and mid-tempo is Deep Sea Divers, which talks of empty eyes and blowing bubbles and yet still manages to charm the socks (or scuba mask) off you, while DNA has a stop-start guitar strum, handclap beats and more kookily endearing melodic structures, especially when delivering its thrilling little chorus.

Even better still, meanwhile, is the soaraway hit that is Up In The Clouds, which drifts from a deceptively Strokesian opening into a lush, layered beauty of disarming beauty. The chorus is euphoric, celebratory and whisks you into the cloudspaces that Deez sings of.

With further highlights coming from the sun-kissed Radar Detector and the brilliantly barbed Bad Day – a track aimed squarely and playfully at a romantic rival – this is a delightful debut offering that deserves to put Darwin Deez on the musical map in a big way.

Check it out!

Download picks: Constellations, Deep Sea Divers, Up In The Clouds, The Bomb Song, Radar Detector, Bad Day

Track listing:

  1. Constellations
  2. Deep Sea Divers
  3. The City
  4. DNA
  5. The Suicide Song
  6. Up In The Clouds
  7. Bed Space
  8. The Bomb Song
  9. Radar Detector
  10. Bad Day